EDUCATION
06/29/2012 04:00 pm ET

Khan Academy Parody Video Made By Two Teachers Highlights Shortcomings In Online Lecture, Inspires Competition

A Mystery Science Theater 3000-inspired parody of a Khan Academy video made by two teachers has prompted a group of education bloggers to launch a competition to help encourage more teachers to engage with and critique Khan Academy.

Former hedge fund analyst Salman Khan founded Khan Academy in 2008, after he started out tutoring his nephew online. Since then, the 3,000-plus short video lectures have amassed over 160 million hits on YouTube.

In their video titled “Mystery Teacher Theater 2000,” John Golden and Dave Coffey spend 11 minutes offering their commentary on a Khan Academy video lecture about multiplying and dividing positive and negative integers.

They allude to some shortcomings in Khan’s methodology, such as putting a positive sign in front of some positive numbers but not others, or failing to cite his sources.

Slate points out: “The errors highlight a blind spot that plagues many Khan Academy lectures: Khan is both brilliant and talented, but he doesn’t know much about pedagogy, the science of teaching information effectively.”

Within five days of the video going up on YouTube, Khan removed his original tutorial, and replaced it with two new, better lectures just two days later. According to Slate, he also sent a comment to Justin Reich -- who linked to the parody video on his education tech blog -- saying he appreciates the feedback.

The MTT2K (short for “Mystery Teacher Theater 2000”) Prize will gift $750 in prize money to the individuals who submit the best video critiques of Khan Academy lectures by August 15, 2012. Individuals from Khan Academy have been invited to participate in the judging as well.

There has been much debate regarding the validity of the Khan Academy, and whether it can, in fact, prove a game-changer in public education.

In his blog, Berkman Center for Internet and Society fellow Justin Reich points out that Golden and Coffey -- thanks to their video -- have modeled how teachers should view educational materials with a critical eye, whether they are produced by Khan or other academic publishers.

CONVERSATIONS